Are We a Social Church Looking for Comfort or are we an Acts Church Looking to Convert the World?



from time to time I think it's always important for us as a parish family to go back to the basics of why we're here and why it is that we do what we do and do it in the way that we do it for those of you for whom Prince of Peace is your spiritual home I'm sure that you can agree with me that this is an amazing place in so many different ways I can't tell you how many times I've had people visit just because they found a convenient mass place in time when they were traveling and come to me after mass and say father that was the most beautiful mass I had ever seen or I wish we had something like this in my diocese now to be fair I've also had people come up to me and say that was the weirdest thing that I've ever seen in my life and so you know not always everybody's cup of tea all the time but we have had people find us on the modern miracle that is the Internet and move across the country uprooting their whole lives because they're looking for a spiritual home and find it here among us I get emails from former parishioners who've moved telling me how much they miss principes and I come across priests all the time who congratulate and encourage us in the work that we're doing here and wish that they could accomplish some of the things that we're able to do here it really is quite humbling when I hear these things and also a great sign of encouragement to keep doing what it is that we're doing when I came to principes in December of 2011 I had a definite vision for our parish family an intentional community of Christian disciples who wants to reap build authentic catholic culture and be an oasis of peace and beauty where the classical catholic spiritual and liturgical tradition is something that we live and breathe at every moment and in everything that we do and there have been so many who have responded positively to that vision there are people all over the world especially young people who are searching for something more than what they have in their lives right here and right now they're those who are tired of bad liturgy bad preaching bad catechesis bad music bad community life and they want something more it's something different than the culture offers though there's a desire for a beautiful experience of divine worship preaching rooted in Scripture and the Magisterium intellectually challenging ongoing formation for discipleship truly sacred music and a real place to call home and for many this parish has become a safe space to thrive as a Catholic in 2017 a book appeared which has gotten a lot of attention in Catholic circles some of you may have come across it or read parts of it or the whole thing raw drear a columnist for The New York Times published a book called the Benedict option in it he argued that a strategy for being a Christian in a post-christian world was to follow the example of the great patriarch of Western monasticism Saint Benedict whose statue is right there on the other side from Saint Michael in the church you know every time I come into church Saint Benedict is one of the first things I see and you'll notice that he has a chalice in his hand which is broken well there's a story behind that when he started to challenge the monks with whom he was living to be as authentically living the gospel as they could then they got kind of annoyed with him because he kept going on about all of this all the time and so they tried to poison him right so he made the sign of the Cross before he took a cup of wine at dinner and then it shattered so it saved him from that but it's always an object lesson when I come into the church to remember that we've got to be prepared for anything and everything when we are doing everything that we can to encourage people to live the gospel as closely as possible but st. Benedict really started this whole movement of something which was truly amazing during the ages of faith many lay people and families lived around monasteries and built a flourishing Christian civilization rooted in the interior life of prayer and the Sacred Liturgy as well as mutual support in one sense drear has popularized an idea that was first elaborated in our own time by a classics professor at the university of kansas john senior in his books the death of christian culture and the restoration of christian culture written in 1978 in 1983 all these books have merits to them and the ideas contained in them have led faithful Catholics to search out centers for excellence that they can plug into now in of itself this isn't necessarily a bad thing there's a but coming and we'll get there in a second but during Eastertide each year the Sacred Liturgy proposes to us the book of the Acts of the Apostles and I don't know if you've ever sat down and read from the first to the last chapter the book of the Acts of the Apostles but if you haven't it really is a wonderful thing I promise you will you will not be wasting your time because it's the history of that very first generation of Christians and their amazing spirit and so in rereading the book of Acts during this Easter tide and hearing those readings proclaimed to us and the liturgy is causing me a lot to think about our common life as a parish family now don't get me wrong it is true that we all need a safe space to be nourished and to grow in our faith but is that all we're looking for remember and many of you have heard me say this before you know I'm a broken record but we are called to build the kingdom of God not the kingdom of narnia okay we are not called to retreat from the world in some kind of romantic fairytale dream that has never existed and probably shouldn't exist we're not called to hide away from the world but you're transformed and so the question that I have to ask myself and I asked you tonight to ponder is are we an acts of the Apostles church or some other kind of church what I mean by that well in Acts chapter 13 Paul and Barnabas go to Antioch of Pisidia where no one up until that point had ever heard the News the gospel of Jesus Christ there they met many Jews and converts to Judaism who in theory would be the most open to the message and there was an openness there but some of the Jews saw their power being threatened and so they deliberately stirred the pox resorting to manipulating and lying to turn people against the new church well why jealousy pure and simple we're told in Acts chapter 13 that that's what it was all about now it's easy for us to say well you know that was 2,000 years ago different place different time well do we live in a place which is really all that different than Antioch of Pisidia I think that there are numerous people who are open to the gospel there's something in their hearts that want something more and authentic and beautiful and amazing to make sense of their life and to give them something beyond the grave there's an openness that's there all over I see that but there are also so many voices which want to drown out the still small voice of God in Antioch a persecution raged Paul and Barnabas eventually had to flee because they wanted to spend their lives planting as many seeds as possible in as many places as possible and those seeds would bear fruit what they didn't do is retreat like little snowflakes more concerned about their physical safety or their reputation I mean who cares what other people think about you only God and what he thinks of you is important and if God has loved every single one of you from all eternity then that's all you need to know Paul and Barnabus they didn't retreat they engaged because they were not afraid they knew who they were and whose they were it's we gave them that boldness to continue to press forward to plant those seeds and let the water the dew of the Holy Spirit bring them to life you and I would not be here in this church tonight had it not been for Paul and Barnabas going to Antioch of Pisidia and doing what they did but that leaves us a question are you coming to church because you like the sweet safe feeling that you get here not because there's anything wrong with that don't get me wrong but have you let your faith become too comfortable to domesticate it because if so then we've we've got a problem now you know how Saint Alphonsus Liguori said that the job of the priest is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable right okay and some of you may say well father you do a big job of afflicting people okay fine I recognize that okay as part of the job description but I want you to think about something anyway confirmation on Friday night the bishop the successors of the Apostles was here with us administering the Sacrament of Confirmation to 38 of our young people and at least until the reforms of vatican ii when the bishop administered the sacrament then he would lightly slap the cheek of the confrim and to remind her that she would have to be willing to suffer for the cause of the gospel now can you imagine if we did that nowadays we'd end up in the newspaper Bishop slapping children all over the place PR disaster right but there was a method to the madness have we lost the spirit of the martyrs that was part of our initiation into the way of Jesus Christ we can't play it safe anymore when it comes to our Catholic faith we need to be formed not us half to bake followers out of convention but with the grit and resolve of the first generation of Christians does our church look like Acts chapter 13 or a pious social club in 2018 a study was done whose findings were recently reported about religion in America for the first time the largest single religious group in our country is what researchers call nuns I'm not talking about the ladies in the black cab that was Sister Act right okay nuns those who claim no religion and that kind of ranges from militant atheists to perpetual seekers at 23.1% Catholics come in at 23% and evangelicals at 22.3% the nuns have grown 266 percent since 1991 which incidentally it was the same year that I was received into the Catholic Church worldwide there are now more Muslims than Catholics we used to be the largest religion in the world not anymore now you know that I am absolutely the first to say that quality is more important than quantity right and that it's not a numbers game where we measure success in terms of one-upping percentage points because the Lord Jesus would have come down to die for the sins of even only one person if only that one person would accept him as Lord and Savior but before the Lord ascended into heaven he gave the Great Commission to his disciples to go forth and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and you know what he never said it was gonna be easy or a barrel of laughs all the time or without conflict again we see in the book of Acts all of that unfolding as we read it I think that when we look at church history and you know how I love history because there's so much that we can see in its light about our present day and age that whenever the church finds its greatest renewal is when we intentionally try to recapture that incredible faith that is present in the book of Acts I want you to think about in England during the sixteenth century Queen Elizabeth the first made it a capital crime for a priest to say Mass or for the faithful to go in here mass what we're doing right now would have be hanged drawn and quartered and you guys in prisoner with fine and so the Catholic faithful of England who were a remnant who would not betray the ancient faith that was given to them from the Apostles they smuggled their young men as missionaries out of England to the continent to be trained for the priesthood and those men would come back you know there's a beautiful scene in the English College in Rome where so many of them were being trained not to be priests but to be martyrs Saint Philip Neri who is a parish priest in Rome he was kind of a practical jokester a really great amazing story would see the English guys on their way to study at the Gregorian University and we call out to them in Latin Salvati Flores Marty room hail flowers of martyrdom every single one of those men that he said that to gave his life for the mass and for their Catholic faith except for one who is portrayed in a mural in the English College is saying nope not gonna do it and ran away like Judas on the night before our Lord's passion here at Prince of Peace it is amazing to see the flowering of holiness that we have here you know I'm convinced that after the hours of confessions that we heard during Lent there cannot be any sinners left in Greenville County of how many beautiful children have been reborn of water in the spirit in Baptism of those who receive First Holy Communion and Confirmation of how many beautiful Christian marriages have been witnessed at this altar I'm waiting to see the day in which there is a first mass of a newly ordained priest every year in this church where I can go where one of our young women takes the veil as a Carmelite nun in a cloister to pray for the world and I'm waiting for the day when one of you we'll have a statue erected for your martyrdom that's the kind of parish that we have and that we can have if we follow the Great Commission if our Lord has given every baptized Christian the same commandment we know that at the end of our life we will have to render an accounts to God for how we have fulfilled that mandate of the Lord now some of you may be looking at me and saying you know what that's a great idea father I think the church needs to do something about all that well you're the church so let's go do it you




Comments
  1. Please pray for me and my Godmother Diane and all of our families and friends..for conversion and holiness and healing..

  2. BEAUTIFUL Imagery! Why don't we walk down the streets in our Catholic garments and carry our Cross up high!? It's so beautiful when I see this happen on some occasions

  3. It struck me that Benedict was almost murdered by his fellow monks because they did not want to follow his strict disciplines. Not much has changed as the wolf shepherds today strive to poison the faithful sheep..

  4. Thank you! I live in California where Protestants have been continuously ingrained with the hate speech by their preachers!
    The key to their hatred of true Catholics is embedded by these preachers convincing lies in their rhetoric that has made these-
    Angry people scream out in public that ALL CATHOLICS ARE GOING TO HELL! -this fervor is so strong that whoever is a weak Catholic
    Would choose to either deny Christ (as st Peter) or just hide their faith ! This only serves to make me stronger in my Catholicism but
    With the free food and fake hugs and smiles (as in the Novos Ordo mass we adopted) we are losing Catholics by the millions here!
    The Protestant cults are mostly growing from fallen away Catholics One of these preachers favorite tool is to tell their new ex Catholics that Vatican II authenticated their cult!

  5. I live in South Carolina and Prince of Peace Parish is the only full time EF Parish in the Diocese that I know of. A bright shining light in our state. Wish it was not so far from me.

  6. I don't want to talk about the protestants now (they've become but a sheer contortion of christianity), but catholic church in the west today is a damn charade! Empty, barren, desolated, unable to cure, changed and changed and changed…to adopt to the FALLEN WORLD, instead the other way around…so, yes, you are nothing but a chat group gathering on sundays, completely unequipped to fight the evil and transform the insane world of today! You want the Church?! Go and see orthodox liturgies or at least easter right catholics' sermons! Everything else outside of that is simply dead! Don't waste your time. Catholic church has literally ruined itself at the second council, and now you're reaping what you've sown.

  7. Social or comfort, the Church founded by Jesus Christ has only one mission "Salvation of souls". But since the church is universal and God did not sent Jesus to condemn the world but to save it.(John3:17)…the Church must move and follow where the Holy Spirit Wills it and that is Ecumenism and Interfaith as Jesus revealed the desire of God in John17:20-22.And Pope Francis said the Church is not a museum nor should we hold on to stagnant Tradition.The Church Tradition are living and dynamic even the defined Dogma's must be understood fully by the Holy Spirit full revelation and timely inspirations.All Church Doctrines including Dogma's must be understood now in the Light of the Infinite Mercy of God. This is what St.JP2 describes as the Final Confrontation. The Vatican II was inspired to preach the Mercy of God as evident in the Divine Mercy revelation and the counterfeit catholic church will oppose and go against this teaching saying it is a "False Mercy".why? Blessed Fulton Sheen said that satan will establish a counterfeit catholic church, and since Satan hated the Mercy of God, people belonging to this church will go aganst the Mercy of God.
    Let us remember what Pope Benedict XVI had said "The heart of the gospel is Divine Mercy".
    So, anyone who go against the teaching of Pope Francis calling it "false mercy" is preaching the anti-gospel as St.JP2 identified this people as belonging to a counterfeit church.
    Let us not be deceive in these end times.
    STAY IN THE ARK.
    "Ubi Petrus, Ibi Ecclesia,Ibi Deus."

  8. He starts off by saying β€œwho cares what anyone thinks but God!” And then goes onto to say β€œcan you imagine if the Bishop still slapped the face during confirmation? It’d be a P.R. disaster!”… So, to answer your question Father, you obviously care about what people think lol… I say take all these Vatican 2 reforms and throw them out the window! And take the novus ordo Bishops while your at it!!

  9. AMΓ‰N..Thank you Father.πŸ™
    Truth has been said.βž•
    Reverence, Tradition and Obedience is much needed.βž•
    We need more Priest like yourself.πŸ™
    I Pray 3 Hail Marys and Rosary. πŸ™βž•πŸ“Ώ

  10. The priest is out of Reality. He sounds not manly and is clueless how empty and superficial the Churches and Catholic communities are!

  11. I miss the reverence they gave to God before the change I miss the teaching of humility when you kneel before God before receiving him it used to be everything was directed towards God now it's about themselves their social gatherings sometimes our priest act like game show hosts seeing how funny they could be how popular they can become loud obnoxious bands where you can't even think in prayer I would love to have it go back to the way it was when you walked into church the holiness the presence of God was so strong and you respected everything about the church and Mass and when you were young you were taught this the teachings of respect reverence when humility hardly exists anymore in our youth

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